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First Quarter Home Sales Up Nearly 26% In Bloomington-Normal

A for sale sign is displayed in front of a house in Westwood, Mass. Home prices hit a new record in October as the number of homes for sale hit an all-time low.
Steven Senne
Sales of new homes in Bloomington Normal are up significantly from the first quarter of last year, according to the Mid-Illinois Realtors Association.

In the first three months of this year, 589 homes, condos, and zero lot line homes sold in the Bloomington-Normal area, according to the Mid-Illinois Realtors Association. That’s an increase of 25.6%.

The average sale price is up 7.1%, which has boosted the overall dollar volume of sales by 34.4%.

Pending sales rose sharply in the Twin City area in March and are up 15.9% for the quarter. Pending sales of newly-built homes were up more than 118% for the quarter.

“Numbers do not lie, and our community is growing in leaps and bounds” said MIRA President Brandon Shaffer. “As more people get vaccinated, businesses continue to re-open with employees' on-site and summer activities are starting to take off, those in our community have not slowed down when it comes to looking for real estate.”

The pace of sales is rapid as well, Shaffer noted.

“A home’s average days on market is now nine days compared to 35 days just a year ago,” he said.

The average price of a home sold in the region is close to $176,000 for the quarter. The average price of a new home sold during the first quarter was just under $300,000.

Interest rates remain low, which has stimulated demand by first-time home buyers, according to the association. Randy Clark with Flagstar Mortgage said there are multiple offers on almost every home, which raises the importance of pre-approval of loans.

Shaffer said Realtors have noticed a significant increase in homeowners paying for landscapers to create outdoor living spaces, having pools installed, and exterior kitchen installations.

“Anything that a homeowner can afford to do that may add value to their home and continue to create an environment for all at home to enjoy is being done,” said Shaffer.

Rivian impact

Rivian has been a part of the rise in home sales. The electric automaker already has over 1,300 employees in Normal, with plans to hire hundreds more soon. Low interest rates also help.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos said that's created a bit of a good-problem-to-have problem. Koos said pressure may increase to build new construction on the edges of town and to annex land.

"We're going to have to take a look at that and look at our subdivision annexation process, what we think might be appropriate. We are very committed to not growing the footprint of the community, but at the same time, we do have to address the need for additional housing in our community," said Koos.

Koos said greenfield expansion can cost cities more to develop and maintain infrastructure than the new construction generates in tax revenue. That calculus sometimes leads municipal leaders to encourage redevelopment within city limits, not outside the borders.

"In terms of redevelopment, kind of evaluate the stock that is really more from the private sector. But, cities that have been protectionist of their corporate boundaries, that has caused significant redevelopment within a community," said Koos.

Koos did not have a sense of when the town will take another look at its zoning and subdivision policy.

"You know, I think the market drives that. We need to have discussions to prepare for that, but the market drives the timeline," said Koos.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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